By Marc Raimondi
Omar Calhoun owns all-star games.
In August, he was the most valuable player of the Franchise Classic in the Bronx. Then he was named MVP of the Sharette Dixon Classic and the Metro Classic within a span of eight days in October. Calhoun won the Metro Classic award in 2010, too.
Three weeks ago, the UConn-bound Christ the King star scored a tournament record 26 points at the All-American Championship in New Orleans and was named the East team’s most valuable player. And finally, last Thursday night he took home another trophy, scoring 22 points to lead Queens to a 124-102 win over Brooklyn in the Wheelchair Charities HS Basketball Classic championship game at York College.
Calhoun was — you guessed it — the MVP.
“I just want to go hard every time,” said Calhoun, who won two CHSAA Class AA intersectional titles and a New York State Federation Class AA championship at Christ the King. “I want to win. We were out here playing for people in wheelchairs. That just motivated us today.”
While other players were going for dunks or trying to dazzle the crowd with fancy dribbling, Calhoun was firing his teammates up on the bench during a close game in the first half. He scored those 22 points in just two quarters and was a breath of fresh air for Queens Coach Rob Diaz.
“He plays with a lot of enthusiasm, he plays with a lot of energy,” Diaz said. “That’s what it really comes down to. He has a lot of fun, he plays hard and he has the talent to do it, which makes it a lot easier.”
Marquise Moore of Holy Cross and Cardozo’s Ryan Yearwood each had 12 points, Campus Magnet’s Samuel Durodola and August Martin’s Jamiek Riviere had 11 points and Mairega Clarke of Holy Cross, Cardozo’s Tajay Henry and Our Savior New American’s LeBrent Walker all had 10 for Queens in the high-scoring affair.
Brooklyn was led by Lincoln’s Travis Charles, who had 23 points. Rashad Andrews of Boys & Girls had 19 points and Kangaroos teammate Tyliek Kimbrough had 17 points. Thomas Jefferson’s Nazai Stokes had 14 points and Transit Tech’s Richard Williams had eight points.
Diaz, who helps organize the event every year, felt like winning this year helped take a monkey off his back. Last year, Queens didn’t make it out of the semifinals.
Calhoun, a Park Slope resident, found it ironic that he helped Queens beat his home borough. But that didn’t stop him from going all out.
“I’m just a competitor,” he said. “I want to win when I play. It was a close game in the first half, I just started picking it up, started being vocal with the guys, started making plays on defense. Just pushing the tempo.”
Added Moore, “He plays one way all the time and that’s hard. That’s how he is and that’s good.”